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Who are the most popular athletes from Finland?

From the ice rinks to the athletics tracks, which Finnish stars shine the brightest?

Discover the most popular athletes hailing from Finland, and learn how they’ve influenced and excelled in their respective sports.

Also check out our post about the most popular soccer players from Finland.

#1 Teemu Selänne

  • 🏆 Sport(s): Ice Hockey
  • 🎂 Born in: 1970
  • 🥇 Biggest Achievement: Stanley Cup Champion and 4-time Olympic Medalist

Teemu Selänne, also known as the “Finnish Flash,” is considered one of the greatest ice hockey players of all time. His skill, speed, and scoring ability left an everlasting impact on the NHL and international hockey.

Off the ice, his charisma and philanthropy endeared him to fans and fellow players alike, making him one of Finland’s most beloved athletes.

#2 Paavo Nurmi

  • 🏆 Sport(s): Athletics (Middle and Long Distance Running)
  • 🎂 Born in: 1897
  • 🥇 Biggest Achievement: 9 Olympic Gold Medals

Paavo Nurmi, known as the “Flying Finn,” remains one of the most successful athletes in Olympic history. His exceptional achievements and endurance on the track solidified his status as a dominant force in distance running and made him a national icon in Finland.

Today, his legacy continues to inspire athletes and sports enthusiasts around the world.

#3 Saku Koivu

  • 🏆 Sport(s): Ice Hockey
  • 🎂 Born in: 1974
  • 🥇 Biggest Achievement: 4-time Olympic Medalist

Saku Koivu enjoyed a storied career not only in the NHL but also as a respected captain of the Finnish national team. His skill, determination, and leadership on the ice made him an inspiration for countless other Finnish hockey players.

Off the rink, his successful battle against cancer and his charity work earned respect and admiration from fans and athletes worldwide.

#4 Janica Kostelić

  • 🏆 Sport(s): Alpine Skiing
  • 🎂 Born in: 1981
  • 🥇 Biggest Achievement: 4 Olympic Gold Medals

Janica Kostelić is Finland’s most successful alpine skier and one of the best in the history of the sport. Her exceptional talent, fierce competitiveness, and fighting spirit have propelled her to numerous victories and podium finishes throughout her career.

Kostelic’s achievements and dedication continue to pave the way for future Finnish skiers and set the bar for excellence in the sport.

#5 Jari Litmanen

  • 🏆 Sport(s): Soccer
  • 🎂 Born in: 1971
  • 🥇 Biggest Achievement: UEFA Champions League Winner

Jari Litmanen is considered Finland’s greatest soccer player, having achieved immense success throughout his career. Known for his skill, vision, and goal-scoring ability, he became a symbol of Finnish soccer and significantly raised the profile of the sport in his homeland.

His talent and sportsmanship endeared him to fans worldwide, making him an iconic figure in the soccer community.

#6 Tero Pitkämäki

  • 🏆 Sport(s): Athletics (Javelin Throw)
  • 🎂 Born in: 1983
  • 🥇 Biggest Achievement: World Champion and Olympic Bronze Medalist

Tero Pitkämäki is one of Finland’s top javelin throwers, with an impressive record of success on the international stage. His technique, strength, and competitive nature helped him excel in a discipline that holds deep roots in Finnish culture and sports history.

Throughout his career, Pitkämäki’s achievements and dedication inspired countless young Finnish athletes, solidifying his status as a local sports hero.

#7 Tanja Poutiainen

  • 🏆 Sport(s): Alpine Skiing
  • 🎂 Born in: 1980
  • 🥇 Biggest Achievement: World Cup Championship and Olympic Silver Medalist

Tanja Poutiainen is one of Finland’s most decorated alpine skiers, boasting several World Cup titles and an Olympic medal. Her technical skill, precision, and consistency on the slopes made her a formidable competitor throughout her career.

As a role model for aspiring young skiers, Poutiainen’s achievements continue to influence Finland’s skiing community and shape the future of the sport.

#8 Kimi Räikkönen

  • 🏆 Sport(s): Formula 1
  • 🎂 Born in: 1979
  • 🥇 Biggest Achievement: 2007 Formula 1 World Champion

Kimi Räikkönen, affectionately known as “The Iceman,” is one of the most successful Finnish Formula 1 drivers in history. His remarkable skill, lightning-fast reflexes, and unmatched cool under pressure have earned him numerous victories and a loyal fan base.

His laconic personality and celebrated career continue to captivate racing enthusiasts around the world.

#9 Matti Nykänen

  • 🏆 Sport(s): Ski Jumping
  • 🎂 Born in: 1963
  • 🥇 Biggest Achievement: 5 Olympic Medals, including 4 Gold

Matti Nykänen is widely regarded as one of the greatest ski jumpers of all time. His incredible talent and unrivaled dominance during the 1980s made him a national hero in Finland.

Despite facing personal struggles off the ski hill, Nykänen’s achievements and iconic status within the sport remain an inspiration for future generations of ski jumpers.

#10 Kaisa Mäkäräinen

  • 🏆 Sport(s): Biathlon
  • 🎂 Born in: 1983
  • 🥇 Biggest Achievement: 3-time Overall World Cup Champion

Kaisa Mäkäräinen has made a significant impact in the world of biathlon, becoming one of Finland’s most successful athletes in the sport. Her extraordinary endurance, precise shooting skills, and consistent performances have earned her multiple World Cup titles and international recognition.

Mäkäräinen’s accomplishments have inspired countless young athletes in Finland and beyond to pursue their dreams in biathlon and other winter sports.

#11 Mika Häkkinen

  • 🏆 Sport(s): Formula 1
  • 🎂 Born in: 1968
  • 🥇 Biggest Achievement: 2-time Formula 1 World Champion

Mika Häkkinen, also known as “The Flying Finn,” is a celebrated Finnish Formula 1 driver best known for his intense rivalry with Michael Schumacher during the 1990s. His exceptional driving ability, remarkable speed, and determination to succeed made him a fan favorite and respected competitor.

Häkkinen’s legacy continues to influence the world of motorsports, inspiring many young drivers to pursue a career on the racetrack.

#12 Eero Mäntyranta

  • 🏆 Sport(s): Cross-Country Skiing
  • 🎂 Born in: 1937
  • 🥇 Biggest Achievement: 7 Olympic Medals, 3 Worlds Championship Medals

Eero Mäntyranta, a Finnish cross-country skiing legend, dominated the sport during the 1960s. His incredible stamina, speed, and technique propelled him to numerous Olympic and World Championship medals.

Mäntyranta’s achievements and enduring legacy continue to inspire Finland’s rising cross-country skiing stars and further the sport’s popularity within the country.

#13 Aki-Petteri Berg

  • 🏆 Sport(s): Ice Hockey
  • 🎂 Born in: 1977
  • 🥇 Biggest Achievement: Olympic Bronze Medalist and Stanley Cup Champion

Aki-Petteri Berg, a talented defenseman, made a significant impact on both the NHL and the Finnish national ice hockey team. His solid skills, physical presence, and dedication to the sport resulted in numerous successes throughout his career.

As a key player in some of Finland’s most memorable international achievements, Berg continues to be a shining example for the nation’s young hockey hopefuls.

FAQ

Who is the greatest athlete in the history of Finland?

Paavo Nurmi, known as the “Flying Finn”, is considered the greatest athlete in Finnish history.

Who is the most popular female athlete from Finland?

Tanja Poutiainen, a world champion skier, is Finland’s most popular female athlete.

Which sport has the most popular athletes from Finland?

Ice hockey remains the sport with the most popular Finnish athletes.

Which athlete from Finland is the most popular internationally?

Kimi Räikkönen, the Formula 1 racing driver, is the most internationally recognized Finnish athlete.

Max is a sports enthusiast who loves all kinds of ball and water sports. He founded & runs stand-up-paddling.org (#1 German Paddleboarding Blog), played competitive Badminton and Mini Golf (competed on national level in Germany), started learning ‘real’ Golf and dabbled in dozens of other sports & activities.

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